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Post Pregnancy Physiotherapy Exercises : Dos & Donts

Physiotherapy After Pregnancy : Post Pregnancy Exercises

The birth of a child is a magical time for the parents. It is a time sprinkled with many joyous discoveries and realisations. However, along with the happiness a newborn brings, a mother has to deal with major physical changes her body goes through.

Pregnancy is a process that brings about major physical, hormonal and mental changes in the mother. After childbirth and during the post-pregnancy period, the mother undergoes physical changes once again in a much shorter span of time.

It is vital - not only for the mother’s health, but also for the happiness of both the mother and child - that sufficient support is obtained during the post-pregnancy period. A good physiotherapist can help the mother with postpartum issues, injuries, pain and can also help them get back in shape.

Why Post-Pregnancy Exercise is Beneficial

During the post-pregnancy period, there is a rapid physical change in the mother’s body. Many post-pregnancy medical issues may arise, such as incontinence, pelvic floor pain, diastasis recti, lower back pain etc. If not treated properly, these can affect the long-term health 

Physical therapy can treat problems that have occurred because of pregnancy and help prevent future physical problems. Physiotherapy after pregnancy gives the mother an idea on how to look after herself and what to prepare for. The physiotherapist assesses you and prescribes exercises according to your needs. They will safely and gradually make you go through these exercises to help you recover

Common Concerns that are Relieved with Physiotherapy

Post-natal physiotherapy can help you with:

  • bladder & bowel functions, and issues with incontinence
  • pelvic floor issues,
  • corrections for child care and other activities
  • lower back pain
  • posture issues and give you advice on ergonomics

Physiotherapy after pregnancy eases the pains, urinary incontinence, pelvic floor muscle issues and can increase your strength, flexibility, as well as long term health. 

Physiotherapy Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor muscle issues can cause problems with incontinence and stability. Pelvic floor muscles are muscles that support the pelvic organs, stabilize the spine & pelvis and maintain continence at the urethral and anal sphincters.

Pregnancy and childbirth adds stress to these muscles. The pelvic muscles drop about an inch during pregnancy and undergo extreme stretching during vaginal delivery. It may be torn or incised during childbirth causing reduced strength and tone in these muscles. 

Physiotherapy after pregnancy can strengthen these pelvic muscles in a safe manner and thus, deal with issues of incontinence. 

Physiotherapy Exercises for Post Pregnancy Back Pain

Pregnancy causes significant changes in your body weight, center of gravity, and posture. This can result in wrong postures that weaken abdominal muscle strength. This puts added stress on your back and pelvis. This can cause back pain. 

Consulting a physiotherapist can significantly decrease your back pain. Physiotherapy after pregnancy can give proper posture instructions for pregnancy, improve flexibility, and can treat back pain through lower back pain exercises. The physiotherapist can also advise you on ergonomics for childcare and strengthen your core muscles. This will also help prevent future injuries. 

Physiotherapy Exercises for Post Pregnancy Neck and Shoulder Pain

Many young mothers suffer from neck and shoulder pain post-pregnancy. This is because the curve of your cervical spine increases to compensate for the change in center of gravity. Additionally, breast enlargement during pregnancy can cause rounding of shoulders and upper back. Breast-feeding the infant might also be done in a wrong posture, contributing to postural asymmetry. 

Tightness of muscles connecting upper-chest to shoulders (pectoralis muscles) and weakness of upper back muscles (scapular stabilisers) can result in rounding of the back, tilted neck, and stooping. 

It will not only result in shoulder and neck pain, but increase stress and degeneration of the spinal disc. This can significantly affect your long term health as changes in the spine can have a domino effect on the rest of your body. 

Physiotherapy can help you strengthen the right muscles, reduce joint stresses and postural imbalances. It will help your posture and muscle strength, as well as long-term health of your spine. 

Physiotherapy Exercises for Post Pregnancy Bladder Issues

Bladder issues are very common in women, post-pregnancy. About ten percent of women suffer from either urinary incontinence or urinary retention after pregnancy and childbirth. Urinary incontinence is involuntary urination or leakage of urine during activities like laughing, sneezing, or exercising. Difficulty in passing urine can be due to urinary retention, which can last upto three days post-delivery. 

Drinking plenty of fluids, urinating only when bladder feels full and not as a habit and pelvic floor exercises can help with these issues. A postnatal physiotherapist takes you through pelvic floor exercises and can even give electrical stimulations to help you with bladder issues.

Post Natal Physiotherapy Exercises After C-Section

Both, a cesarean delivery and vaginal delivery, require postpartum care and treatment. But, a C-section is a major surgery and requires its own post-surgery rehabilitation. You need to be mindful of your daily activities as your body is recovering from a major surgery. Consulting a physiotherapist can help reduce post-surgical pain, organ prolapse, development of scar tissues at the incision site, etc. They can also handle other general postnatal issues such as incontinence, faulty posture, and pain.

Physiotherapy Exercises for Abdominal Tone

Pregnancy and childbirth significantly affects the abdominal muscles or abs, as it's commonly called. Your upper abs, linea alba, and both sides of the rectus are stretched to their limits during pregnancy. This decreases their strength and ability to create a strong contraction.

Also, the muscles of linea alba might actually separate during pregnancy. Unfortunately, they don't tend to join back together on their own after childbirth. This condition is known as diastasis recti. Women who have had multiple pregnancies are at a higher risk for this condition. Diastasis recti causes pelvic strain, tummy bulge and lower back pain. 

Post-pregnancy physiotherapy can improve the strength of your abdominal muscles, which prevents lower back injury and abdominal organs from “dropping forward” due to lack of support. It can also help you get back in shape and regain a flat stomach.

Pregnancy and childbirth are not only major life-events, but also events that greatly affect your long-term physical health. Be mindful of your body as it is recovering and undergoing major physical changes. Do not lift anything heavy for the first couple of months after childbirth. Ensure correct posture while nursing your baby. Drink plenty of water and eat food with high-fiber content. 

Also, it is vital to address medical and postural issues as early as possible to ensure prevention of injuries in the future. Consult a physiotherapist for any assistance with medical issues. You can visit our website for more information.

FAQs :

1. What is pregnancy physiotherapy?

Ans. Physiotherapy in the third trimester of pregnancy involves advanced strengthening for the spine and abdomen, pelvic floor exercises, techniques to improve the flexibility of the lower limbs and pelvis and pain management.

2. When can I start physiotherapy after giving birth?

Ans. If you had a vaginal birth, you only need to wait two days to begin. It is best to wait 5 days if you had a caesarean birth. If you experience any discomfort, stop doing the exercises and consult a physiotherapist.

3. What are the best exercises for postpartum?

Ans. Walking, swimming, water aerobics, and yoga are all good postpartum exercise options. Low-impact aerobic activities and stretching are frequently recommended for beginners. At the gym, other low-impact options include the stationary bike, elliptical machine, and stair-climber machine.

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